The ultimate goal of dating and intimate relationships is to reach a juicy, heart-expanding, mutual YES!
But—you won’t be able to reach that full YES until you master your NO.
Saying NO—to unwanted dates, sexual acts, relationships, etc.— is something many of my clients struggle with. But it’s an essential skill for finding and growing loving relationships, because:
- Saying NO to what we don’t want clears space in our lives for what we TRULY do want!
- Saying NO when we aren’t fully enthusiastic releases other people from our fake, or halfhearted YES, and gives them the freedom to pursue their own true YES.
Our ability to voice a clear and loving NO sets us and others free from untruth.
In other words, it’s the KIND thing to do! Clarity = kindness.
There’s a variety of reasons that can make saying NO a scary thing:
- We are afraid that saying NO will lead to loneliness
- We dislike hurting someone’s feelings
- We have been socialized to be polite and to people-please rather than to be authentic
- We are confused about what our YES and our NO even are
- We feel that saying NO is unsafe (we might have been punished for it at some point)
- We don’t know how to say NO without shutting down emotionally and feeling disconnected
These obstacles can be overcome with mindful awareness and practice. We can learn to say NO in a way that feels safe, grounded, caring, and connected.
For example, you can enroll a trusted friend into this powerful exercise.:
Take turns making hypothetical requests from one another (ask for a hug, for a date, for a kiss, etc.) and say “no”, or “no, thank you” from the heart to each one—even if you feel like saying yes. Feel into how that NO reverberates in your body, and visualize expressing your NO from the center of your chest—and integrating care, connection, and kindness. Practicing this skill in a safe, controlled environment can make it easier to say NO to a date when it feels vulnerable.
It can be scary to move away from people-pleasing and into the vulnerability of radically authentic expression—but the quality of your intimate relationships depends on it. Becoming more honest with yourself and others about your desires, needs, and boundaries is fundamental to building love partnerships based on truth and on love, rather than on fear.
In other words: when your lover can fully trust your NO, only then can they fully trust your YES. This is when the true discovery of another human being may really begin, without pretense—this is genuine intimacy.